The kids are spending the day at school and you're
left wondering what kind of day they're having. Do you wonder if
she has friends at school? Are there things he struggles with
during the school day? You can't watch her via webcam or sit in the
back of her classroom, but you can ask her teacher for a daily
communication log. What information should you request?
Learn the teacher's preferred communication
If you want your teacher to communicate effectively, ask
what's best for him. Some teachers like traditional composition
books, while others might prefer to send an e-mail or call on the
phone. Sometimes the choice might come down to the teacher's
schedule. If she feels rushed to write in the book before the bell
rings, then maybe sending an e-mail after the children have left on
the bus works better.
Avoid judgmental terms like "good" or "bad"
Instead, ask for a description of specific behaviors. You
also want to know what led to a meltdown or incident, and what was
done to resolve the situation. This is important so that you can
identify triggers for your child.
Set priorities for what you really want to know
Keep in mind that your child's teacher only has so much
time and a class full of other students, so understand that she
will limit her writings to what's pertinent for that day. If you
need to prioritize, what aspects of your child's day do you want
your teacher to focus on? Social? Academic? Behavioral?
Friends and play time are just as important
Did your child play alone today at school or engage other
kids in play? If so, who? Look to see if certain names become
repeats in your communication log and investigate how those
friendships are being fostered. Continue to build those
relationships after school by setting up play dates.
Look at your child's school work habits
Did he complete all of his class activities? If no, why
not? "She's slow when she does her class work" isn't a sufficient
answer to help target the underlying problem. Is she distracted?
Does she understand the work? Does she need assistance with time
School doesn't really end at 3 p.m.
Does your teacher want you to reinforce anything at home?
For instance, if your child engaged in rather unfavorable
incidents, you want to know so you don't unknowingly "reward" him
later. You don't want to give your child the impression that he can
do whatever he wants at school without repercussions at home. On
the flip side, you also want to encourage all of the positive
things your child is doing at school. Consistency, consistency,
consistency is key.
Communication logs aren't just for elementary
Secondary school students have planners in which teachers
can sign or include short comments. Your concern for how your child
manages his day in middle school is no different from the concern
you had when he was in primary grades. If anything, you may develop
more concerns as your child enters middle and high
If daily logs are too stressful for your child, consider
weekly logs. You may need to individualize the
What is your child saying without telling
Ask your child's teacher to note any concerns your child
is expressing, such as signs of anxiety or repeating things over
Communication should include the great things your child does
too-not just negative behaviors. Your child does some amazing
things at school that you don't get to see, so make sure you ask
your teacher to share those moments as well.
Shelly McLaughlin works at Pathfinders for Autism.
Let us plan your weekend with the best family events and activities in Chicagoland.
Start the week right with deals, prizes, parent life hacks and more delivered straight to your inbox.
Need last-minute ideas for a weekend of family fun? No worries. We've got you.
Get the inside scoop on the people, places and things we are loving right now.
Resources, tips, inspiration and more for parents of children with special needs.
Score exclusive offers from our fabulous advertisers.